By Curt Yeomans
Forest Park voters overwhelmingly re-elected Mayor Corine Deyton for a second term as the city's leader, but some voters will have to return to the polls, on Dec. 1, to decide two City Council races that were on the ballot in municipal elections on Tuesday.
City Councilwoman Sparkle K. Adams will face challenger Thomas Smith in the Ward 1 City Council race. Forest Park residents Donald Wright and Karen-Brandee Williams advanced to the runoff for the Ward 2 seat on the council.
Forest Park Election Superintendent David Painter said the results were preliminary, and the official results would not be available until six provisional ballots are reviewed later this week.
Out of the 1,085 ballots cast in the mayoral race, Deyton garnered 622 votes, giving her a victory with 57 percent of the ballots cast. Following Deyton were mayoral hopefuls Darnell Moorer, with 272 votes (25.1 percent of the ballots cast), and Christine Ellington, with 191 votes (17.6 percent of the ballots cast).
"I'm just so excited, and pleased, that the voters decided to re-elect me," Deyton said. "I'm anxious, and looking forward to working on the re-development of Fort Gillem ... It will bring jobs to this city, and turn our economy around."
In the Ward 2 City Council race, which also had a field of three candidates, there were 285 ballots cast. In this race, Wright and Williams finished within one vote of each other. Wright garnered 125 votes, or 43.9 percent of the ballots cast, and Williams earned 124 votes, which was 43.5 percent of the ballots cast.
The third candidate in the Ward 2 race, Deverick Williams, garnered 36 votes, or 12.6 percent of the ballots cast.
The two candidates heading into the runoff in the Ward 2 City Council race said they were not satisfied with the election results, though, and one of the would-be council members, Karen-Brandee Williams, said she is going to look into contesting the results, citing alleged discrepancies in the voting process, including allegations that some people who requested absentee ballots never received them.
"I'm really not satisfied with the election results," Karen-Brandee Williams said. "It was definitely a surprise for me to go into a runoff. My tracking numbers showed me doing better. I just don't have confidence in the city's election process."
Wright, like Karen-Brandee Williams, said he too did not expect to go into a runoff, and was disappointed in the results.
"I figured it was going to be a tight race, but I thought I was going to win," Wright said. "I still think I can win, I'm just going to have to work harder."
Painter, the Forest Park election superintendent, could not be reached by telephone Tuesday evening for an explanation on how a candidate can contest the election results. Painter said earlier in the day on Tuesday that an investigator from Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel's office was at the city's polling location, the Forest Park Recreation Center, for an hour Tuesday morning to observe the election process in the city. That came after complaints from residents who accused city election officials of allegedly denying them the right to vote.
In the three-person Ward 1 City Council race, there were 263 votes cast. Thomas Smith, the owner of TNT Automotive Performance, led the field with 98 votes, or 37.3 percent of the ballots cast. Sparkle Adams, the incumbent, followed with 87 votes, or 33.1 percent of the ballots cast. The third candidate in the race, Kimberly James, garnered 78 votes, or 29.7 percent of the ballots cast.
"I predicted that it was going to go into a runoff," Smith said. "I just felt like with the candidates and the turnout that we had, I didn't think anyone was going to win it outright."
When contacted by phone Tuesday night, Adams asked a reporter to call her back later in the evening. She could not be reached, later, for comment.